Noises Off

Noises Off (Peter Bogdanovich, 1992) from the play by Michael Frayn; Michael Caine, Denholm Elliott, Carol Burnett, Christopher Reeve, Julie Hagerty

I feel as tho I've seen the play, tho I can't find any evidence that I have. It's one of the 'best' plays I find myself talking about, because it's not just a brilliant farce - it's also about the theatre as such, and the play that it is.

The basis concept is that a play (called Nothing On) is seen in the first act from the front of house. In the second, the set is turned thro 180 degrees and we see the action backstage while exactly the same (first) act of Nothing On is 'being performed' on the other side of the set. In the third act, the set is turned back again, and we see the first act again - only relationships among the cast have deteriorated even further than they had in the second act.

The play ends in disaster, but the film ends relatively happily. Frayn wasn't happy with that, but he said he could see why the director had made the change (as well as some other changes, including changing [most of] the cast to American actors instead of British).

Personally, I think the film is very successful, with just a little bit too much busy-ness, a little OTT acting (from Julie Hagerty especially), and a couple of flat spots. I wish it had been made by a skilled English director with a local cast — but at least we can see a version of Michael Frayn's excellent play 'forever'.

References and Links

Wikipedia page.

IMDb page.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 18 April, 2020 | Now: 18 April, 2020